Article Analysis: Identifying and Prioritizing Critical Knowledge
The article, Identifying and Prioritizing Critical Knowledge, published by American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) begins with the assumption that a knowledge management strategy and goal have already been established. The article then moves into identifying critical knowledge, establishing where knowledge gaps exist, and then prioritizing those gaps to determine which to address first.
Identifying the critical knowledge within an organization should begin with consulting business leaders to determine which areas are critical to support the goals of the business, where knowledge gaps exist, and then asking them to rank them by “urgency and strategic importance” (APQC). After this information has been established, the knowledge management (KM) team should interview the managers and subject matter experts (SMEs) of each business unit. Another source of information that can be leveraged is the organization’s business continuity plans which outline their critical functions. The compiled data from the interviews and business continuity plans should be presented to business leaders with a recommended knowledge area priority list.
Once the priority list has been approved, a system to identify the knowledge that is at-risk should be determined. APQC recommends using knowledge mapping to visually capture the sources of knowledge for each process, but other techniques to capture this data exists. To create the knowledge maps, the KM team interviews managers and SMEs to determine what knowledge is needed, who has the knowledge, and when is the knowledge needed. The maps are then used to visually determine where gaps exist. Another method to capture critical data is to conduct interviews with key personnel either on an ongoing basis, prior to retirement or after events occur such as a project.
Establishing a mechanism so end-users can also identify where knowledge gaps exist is essential. Knowledge needs can also be identified by KM teams by monitoring communities of practice or other established sites within the organization, such as community sites and collaboration tools.
The last step in the process, after the knowledge gaps and needs are determined, is to prioritize the list. This effort can be accomplished by utilizing the APQC’s Knowledge Loss Risk Matrix, which ranks the likelihood of knowledge loss and consequences of knowledge loss or through other methods as long as it is applied “objectively and consistently to ensure you focus on the right KM needs and projects” (APQC).
APQC. "5018779." 09 01 2019. apqc.org. 11 09 2019.